When Sabal’s fingers touched my face, I knew morning had arrived. Through a thick fog and swollen eyes, my body slogged along until I sipped cups of morning coffee.
That was me three years ago, in summer of 2010.
Depression haunted my soul and felt much like I stood behind a plexiglass wall and couldn’t break out.
Of my litany of medical struggles I’ve encountered, despair continued to be the number one topic that my friends secretly would ask about as soon as I mentioned my internal suffering. One hint of my history, and question after question followed.
I wanted to snap out of it…but couldn’t. I wondered what was wrong with me, and I certainly didn’t want to share my weakness with anyone.
There’s hope. I promise. I’m living proof.
Here are the things that entrapped my mind.
1) I exaggerated my problems, making them bigger than what they were. We were in debt again from more hospital bills and I thought there was no way to climb out. Plus, we lived in the middle of a cancer cluster in Acreage, and we were trying to move–but it wasn’t working.
2) I analyzed myself and repeated my shortcomings over and over. During this season of my life, I was writing a book and felt deeply inadequate and daily questioned why I returned to my keyboard when surely no publishing house would ever purchase my manuscript. Spiritual warfare, anyone? The enemy hated that I was recording my miracles. No wonder he bombarded my mind.
3) Withdrawing from friends, I isolated myself out of fear no one would understand what I was going through.
4) Emotionally, the worrying wore me out and I experienced great fatigue. This caused long napping during the day, which was horrible come night time because I couldn’t sleep. That’s where the occasional glass of wine or overuse of a popular sleep aid came in. I even intermittently used half doses of old Oxycontin pills from treatment because they had the opposite effect on me. They make most people hyper–me, super tired. Either way, I woke in a fog most mornings and didn’t want to get out of bed, and I certainly didn’t want to share my embarrassing sleep-tactics with anyone. I’d be judged for sure. I had no idea that drugs interfere with the neurotransmitters in my brain, and could have been the main reason for my depression.
5) I focused on my disappointment with unmet expectations.
What helped break these habits and aid in mentally moving forward?
1) I needed someone, anyone, to believe in me, and I needed to know my circumstances would change. Hope deferred made my heart and mind sick. My husband tried his best to help, but I needed tangible proof our circumstances would change. We sought wise counsel in certain areas of our life (financial and marriage classes).
2) I flushed my pills and stopped indulging in the occasional glass of wine. This was a big turning point in my life. Alcohol is a depressant and may be fine for those who aren’t struggling with despair. For me, it took a few days, but I noticed the biggest relief when the chemicals no longer altered my mind.
3) I opened up to a few close friends I knew wouldn’t judge me.
4) I forced myself to get out of the house even when I had little desire to leave my bed.
5) I started jogging. Exercise played a key role in energizing my endorphins.
6) Prayer and Bible Reading. Giving God my burdens helped calm my spirit. I journaled my thoughts, read my Bible, and prayed like never before. Even when the heaviness surrounded me, I knew I wasn’t going through this mess alone. Then something crazy happened after the medications were out of my system. When I read my Bible, my spirit lifted.
I can’t explain it. I don’t think I need to.
7) I listened to upbeat music or motivational speakers. Much of my music was slow and jazzy. Surrounding myself with positive, upbeat music elevated my spirit. So did replacing the negative messages in my brain with a positive motivational speaker. Think Zig Zigglar, Tim Hawkins, Bob Coy, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyer, and Pastor Dan Plourde.
8) I got my lithium levels checked. No one ever wants to admit they may have low lithium levels, but mine were slightly lower than normal. I’m not a doctor, and you shouldn’t blindly follow what someone else has done, but I can honestly say that the supplement Li-Zyme by Biotics Research helped elevate my mood. I am not affiliated with Biotics Research in any way and I am not trying to sway you to take their products. This is what helped me and when I was so beaten down, I just wanted someone to shoot straight. I don’t do well with medications and always seem to have some awful side effect, but this phytonutrient helped me for a period of time and with no adverse reactions. Talk with your doctor, I’d recommend one who will take the time to listen and isn’t quick to write out a prescription.
Three years later, the more I talked with friends about the subject, the more I heard the same trap:
Fear. Excessive worrying. Isolation. Mood-altering medications/alcohol. Limited support system. Distorted views of self.
Depression began in my mind where the father of lies loved to whisper away at me, baiting my thoughts.
The good news? The cycle can be broken. Finding the triggers, openly talking about it, and taking action steps to break free were the keys.
Parts of this post I almost deleted, again, out of fear of judgement. Then I remembered: In Christ there is no condemnation.
Humans condemn. Christ sets captives free.
Anyone else have any action steps they used to beat depression? I’d sure like to hear them.